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Roundabout with Micah: Inviting environment awaits at Early Light Cafe

Published: Wednesday, May 21, 2014 10:18 p.m. CDT

Early Light Cafe is one of my favorite places in Geneva. If you have ever ridden your bike or walked along the Fox River and seen inspirational messages written in sidewalk chalk, smelled fresh egg sandwiches or stopped for ice cream along the way, you can probably thank Dawn Phillips and Eileen Kanute, owners of Early Light Cafe. Early Light is at 11 E. State St. in Geneva (on the ground floor of Mill Race Cyclery).

I was able to sit down and talk to Phillips one afternoon, and she told me the story of this little cafe.

Phillips and Kanute have owned and operated the outdoor cafe with their families since May 2013. An avid cook and baker, Phillips said she had always wanted to own a cafe.

Close friends as well as business partners, she and Kanute balance each other out, Phillips said. She gladly brags on her friend, and said that Kanute is excellent with the healthy and natural foods and keeps up with the business side of the cafe. Phillips creates and provides the sweet treats we enjoy so much.

Early Light is unique because of this variety of menu items. Between Phillips and Kanute, the ladies knew at the beginning of this project they wanted to provide those who were walking and biking with healthy options. So, a variety of protein shakes, gluten-free sandwiches and recovery drinks were created. Ice cream-based treats, cookies and sweet drinks were added for those customers with a sugar craving.

Personally, I like to have a Saturday morning egg and bacon sandwich and chocolate shake. And sitting in the sun on the Early Light garden patio, I can watch and enjoy as families, cross country and track kids, and cyclers grab snacks there, drawn by the smell of freshly baked ciabatta bread. Many of them return week after week in the summer.

Early Light is a family business as well as a collaboration of close friends. When visiting Early Light, expect a familiar face to greet you from behind the window. Kanute and Phillips have five sons between them who help out at the cafe. When asked what it’s like to work in this environment, Phillips said she is thrilled that “I get to see my friend every day.”

The best thing about Early Light Cafe is often said to be the environment, and of course the food. My family has a personal connection to the food by providing the locally roasted coffee via our family coffee roasting business, FreshGround Roasting.

“It’s all about friendship, I guess,” Phillips said. “The beauty of food is that it brings people together.”

Phillips told me the story of a young couple who came to Early Light as their first date after having twins. I remember being at Early Light one Saturday morning and running into the Geneva High School cross country team getting breakfast before practice. This, Phillips said, is her favorite part of the cafe.

There are so many reasons I love Early Light Cafe, and I am thrilled to have them be the subject of my fourth and final column for the Kane County Chronicle, perfectly ushering us into the summer months.

Take a morning and visit Early Light Cafe this summer. Enjoy an egg sandwich or other delicious treat and say hello to whoever is behind the counter. Sit back and enjoy this unique Geneva location.

Find more information about Early Light, as well as hours and a menu, at earlylightcafe.com.

• Micah Andersen is a senior at Geneva High School, set to graduate Sunday. She will be attending Judson University in the fall. She loves poetry, stories and has a blog at never-stop-writing.com. Contact her at editorial@kcchronicle.com.

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